As the Eagles gear up to belatedly commemorate Hotel California’s 40th anniversary, it is worth looking back at some of the other fantastic work released by a slew of bands across a range of genres. 1977 is also the year the world lost “the King” Elvis Presley at the age of 42. Whilst Exeposé have covered 1987’s musical treasures, 1977 had a wealth of gems for music lovers to enjoy.
1977 saw punk take off with the acclaimed debut of The Clash released in the spring, having only been recorded in the February. Whilst The Clash doesn’t contain many of the band’s biggest hits, it showcases much of their sound and was a ground-breaking work at the time of release. It is ranked at 77 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time list.
In keeping with debut albums, Talking Heads debut Talking Heads 77 was also released in September 1977, containing one of the band’s signature songs, ‘Psycho Killer’, like Blondie, the band were able to create a sound that was an amalgamation of several genres.
Other gems cropped up frequently throughout 1977, one of the most notable is without doubt Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, which is both one of the biggest-selling and best reviewed albums of all time, with many of its singles such as ‘The Chain’, ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ still receiving significant airplay, it paved the way for Fleetwood Mac to become one of the biggest bands of the 80s.
Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Exodus was another one of the year’s highlights, containing several of their biggest hits including ‘Jamming’, ‘Waiting in Vain’, ‘One Love’ and ‘Three Little Birds’. In 1999 Time magazine labelled the album as the best of the 20th Century, and it is still much loved to this day, over 35 years on from Marley’s death. The political overtones of the album were much admired and the strength of this album showcases Marley’s song-writing prowess and what a unique musical vehicle he and his collaborations with the Wailers were.
The Stranger by Billy Joel is one of my favourite records from 1977 and indeed one of my favourites in general; it covers a fantastic range of genres from the rocky title track, the up-tempo opener ‘Movin’ Out’ to the classic ‘Just the Way You Are’ and the epic ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’. Whilst not as poppy as 1983’s An Innocent Man which contained ‘Uptown Girl’, this album contains several of Joel’s biggest singles as well as some memorable album tracks and shows his dexterity as an artist and how he took influence from a number of genres, with soul and jazz influences frequently on display.
1977 David Bowie, was arguably Bowie at his most experimental, having released Station to Station in 1976, he followed this up with two offerings in ’77, Low and Heroes. Low, whilst containing hit single ‘Sound and Vision’, is a particularly experimental effort, emphasised by tracks such as ‘Warszwa’ and ‘Speed of Life’. The title track from Heroes would, of course, go on to become one of Bowie’s biggest hits, however there are few other notable tracks on the record and indeed ‘Heroes’ didn’t chart particularly highly, with its highest chart placing coming last year shortly after his death.
Queen’s News of the World confirmed their status as one of the all time classic rock bands and contains several of their biggest stadium anthems, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions’, whilst initially not as well received as A Night at the Opera or A Day at the Races, it foreshadows Queen’s transition to mainstream pop/rock in the 80s and is a beloved record by fans, and indeed arguably one of their most important.
It’s worth concluding with Hotel California, which although released in December of 1976, is having its 40th anniversary commemorated this year by the band with a deluxe reissue and concerts to go alongside. I find a highlight on this record whenever I listen to it; for many it’s likely to be the title track, with its lyrical mysteriousness and legendary duelling guitar solo. For some it might be the riff-tastic ‘Life in the Fast Line’ or the more pop-friendly ‘New Kid in Town’. At present I absolutely adore ‘The Last Resort’, which I feel one could interpret in many ways; it’s a swirling epic, with Don Henley commenting that it is about how man is destroying the environment, a theme as important now if not more so than it was 40 years ago when the song was recorded. Along with many of the records released in 1977 this one has stood the test of time and cemented the Eagles’ reputation as one of the great American rock groups.